ep1str0phy

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  1. Lee Morgan: The Last Session

    That made me feel vaguely ill.
  2. The Atlantic Warehouse Fire

    No. ← So they're just sitting on them? And I assume that we lost the Ornette/Steve Lacy double-quartet sides in the Atlantic fire?
  3. October Conns!

    Will respectfully disagree on the first two points. Out of all of Hill's first wave of BNs, I find both the melodies and forms (especially the forms) of these pieces to be the most clearly deliniated. Which is not to say that they're "better", just that they "stick" as complete, fully formed entities almost immediately, with little or no need for repeaed listenings to figure out what, in general, is going on technically. I'd even go so far as to say that for the "lay fan", that this is the most "accesible" of Hill's early BN dates. As for Gilmore, hey - both of his recordings w/Andrew are "desert island" recordings for me. He really brings a special flavor to the music, and his interpretations, in both melody and solos, are as perfect and as organic as any horn player that Hill's ever recorded with, imo. His natural style of fragmented motivic variation is such a perfect conceptual match for Hill's similarly fragmented-yet-together compositional style. I think he really gets inside the music in a way that few, if any, other horn players have. No disagreement on that third point, though. None whatsoever! ← You know, I was sort of hasty about the melodies--Hill has this sort of insidiousness about his heads that grabs hard and just doesn't let go. Still--and this may be my ears--"Andrew!!!" sounds a lot more angular than usual... substantially more esoteric than "Black Fire" and at least as impressionistic as "Judgment". The intervals just kill; over the course of Hill's early Blue Note tenure, his heads just got harder and harder to whistle. Listening with the right tools yields ample rewards--and this stuff can stick in your skull--but there's a pretty wide gap between "Land of Nod" and "Le Serpent Qui Danse". That's sort of what I meant by less memorable--just more difficult to grasp. I'm kind of on the same level with the harmonies; there's this sort of "floating" quality to "Andrew!!!" that obscures the form (even if the progressions themselves are quite striking). On the matter of Gilmore--I've really been disappointed by a lot of his non-Sun Ra output. I'm glad that there's so much love for him out here--and I do enjoy his spots on "Andrew!!!"--but he comes across as... well, if not extraneous, then merely "supplementary". "Turkish Women..." turned me off for the same reasons. I guess you can't expect--nor should you expect--a guy to go apeshit on every session he's on, but Gilmore always sounds underutilized to me. Even on "Andrew!!!", where he's clearly integrated into the whole, the rhythm team is just so tight that Gilmore's kind of there to float on top (like Henderson on Black Fire, but that was sort of a gestative session--even Hill and Davis were just getting together). Love his playing to death, though. You know, Hill's always been the insider pick for me... I was introduced to the 60's BN's by an old jazzbo--you know, the kind of cat who had simultaneous chats with Oliver Nelson and the NYAQ--and was knocked out at the first bar. Hill is like a rite of passage--when you dig him, you're in in the clique. Nice to see the enthusiasm, all.
  4. October Conns!

    They also kept Lee Morgan's Infinity (with JMac) unreleased at the time, so it came as something of a shock in the early 80's (when both were finally released) to that they had done so much great recording together in the mid-60's. Consequences is more traditional than what Blue Note was releasing by McLean in that era (One Step Beyond, Destination, Out, Action, It's Time, Right Now, New and Old Gospel, Bout Soul), but is certainly far superior to the last two titles. As good as it is, I like 'Jacknife' even better. "On the Nile" is a great Charles Tolliver tune. Don't miss the Mosaic Select of him when it comes out - great great stuff. ← "Jacknife" is indeed fine (my favorite BN McLean after "Destination Out" and "One Step Beyond"), but I wouldn't give "Gospel" and "Bout Soul" such short shrift. Jackie really stretches on those two--there's little on record quite like it. And I like Ornette on trumpet.
  5. October Conns!

    Having spun the Hill and Cherry quite a few times already, I have a notion or two... "Where is Brooklyn?"--fine compositions all around, terrific playing, and wonderful group interplay. The power level here is tremendous. They let Pharoah out of the box for this one. This is one of those rare well-recorded early PS records that doesn't vamp off into oblivion (not that there's anything wrong with that). Grimes comes off extremely well, boasting remarkable technique and endurance (keeping up with high-velocity double-stops). Cherry is energized by his sidemen, often lapsing into scratchy, brassy passages redolent of the Ayler days. Blackwell holds the whole group together, retaining a sense of transparency that grounds the ensemble in groove (reminding everyone just where they are). The only real problem with this session is that it's nowhere near as dynamic as either "Symphony for Improvisers" or "Complete Communion." Pharoah is completely indicative of the strengths and failings of this recording. His personal verve and sense of elation are so strong that they threaten to overwhelm the proceedings--it's like the old rock maxim (two volumes--loud and louder). The whole group follows suit. This isn't necessarily a bad thing--there's too little of this ensemble to go around--but "Brooklyn" is clearly missing some of the mayhem and schizophrenia of the other BNs. A beautiful session, but not so idiosyncratic as it could have been--caveat emptor. "Andrew!!!"--prime early Hill. In its own way, "Andrew!!!" is on par with "Point of Departure," "Judgment," "Black Fire" and the ilk. Despite the matching rhythm sections, this is nothing like "Dialogue". If it weren't for Joe Chambers--much less combustible, a little more "brainy" than Elvin Jones--I'd say that this was "Judgment" Pt. 2. Hill's melodies are less memorable than on previous sessions, but the group dynamic is simply stunning. The boys just take it somewhere else on this one. There's urgency, danger in the grooves. The rhythm section is just so tight that... well, it's heavy--not just "wow that's deep heavy"... Led Zeppelin heavy. The individual contributions are fine. Richard Davis doesn't get enough credit; he's always been one of the most versatile, reliable bassists in the community, capable of playing even the most complex material with uncanny spirit. He locks right into Hill--a dizzying, whirlwind counterpoint. Hutcherson is as spirited as ever, and Chambers--well, he's as underrated as they come. I'd say that no other drummer was as well attuned to the BN progressive sound--which was, in the end, as much about space as anything else (there's not too much bombast, but there's a lot of fun). John Gilmore doesn't have a lot to do here; he gets in a number of good spots, but he's hardly the main attraction. Cherish this sound--there's only so much of it out there.
  6. Happy Birthday Bill Dixon

    Cheers! Wouldn't be here without him.
  7. October Conns!

    Yeah, but there are some strange anomalies. "Action," "Am I Blue", "Reach Out"... maybe these are the ones that RVG got to first, but I'd think that "Fuchsia Swing Song" would have more commercial appeal (especially with three Miles sidemen onboard). Some of these RVG choices are remarkably esoteric, especially granted the glut of quality titles--highly touted by, let's face it, the very demographic that would be investing in these CDs--released under the Connoisseur label. Elementary economics: we're being charged by the value with which we imbue the Connoisseur titles--otherwise, the C Series would be an unsound venture. There's high demand among a small contingency of jazzbos, so the market works us. Reasonable enough. What I don't understand is why anyone would think that "Reach Out" would be a more commerically viable album--thus reaping the benefits of a fold-out liner package, new liner notes, heavy distribution, relatively heavy promotion, and name recognition. Who's buying this stuff? And I know remastering jobs cost beaucoup bucks, but surely someone will lose profit over poorly chosen titles (whether or not RVG put his stamp on them). I'd like to think that this is all a part of BN's grand scheme to reissue their entire back catalogue, but as long as we're being selective, do we really need the fluff titles? (I like "Action," by the way.)
  8. October Conns!

    Just purchased "Andrew!!!" and "Where is Brooklyn?" for $13.00 each (steep, but significantly lower than they used to go for). I'm probably one of three people who buys these in shop (I'm in Berkeley, CA right now... both major shops down Telegraph put out only two/three copies at a time. I seldom see any movement, but that's the college crowd.). "Andrew!!!" is a new spin, and it's phenomenal. Sound is good, ensemble is nice ("Judgment" is a favorite of mine). Early Hutch is always a plus (isn't there a late 60's/early 70's Mosaic on the way?).
  9. AOTW Oct.2-9. John Patton "Let 'Em Roll"

    I've got to give it up for Green on this one. This is one of those pre-rare groove sides where GG still sounds like a katana blade... Grant had a fine track record with organists, and he seems particularly inspired here (not afraid to double-time, comp a little heavy). The session as a whole is a little formulaic, but it transcends the trappings of soul grease with some fine blowing. I actually bought this set because it had the same instrumentation as "Street of Dreams" (one of my all time favorites). This is an altogether different monster, however; "SOD" is all romance and noir, whereas "Let 'Em Roll" is straight-up, black bottom funk. Different sides of the hotel, I guess.
  10. October Conns!

    I guess I'd call it more of a "state of mind." Or lack thereof.
  11. October Conns!

    Does anyone else find it strange that these aren't listed on the BN website? Pushing for Monktrane, I guess (although most of the interested parties already own it).
  12. Upcoming Cream CD/DVD

    Cream is the reason I'm here, although the music hasn't aged as well with me as it probably could have. Some of it is phenomenal, some of it is plainly good, some of it is remarkably dated. One thing's for sure--Cream was a band of consummate technicians, head and shoulders above the vast majority of the late-60's rock pantheon. At their best moments, no one was better (although some were probably as good). I've heard practically all of the recorded material from the Albert Hall dates... not unimpressive, to be sure. Ginger still plays like a madman (his post-Elvin Jones approach has been tempered by some solid afrocentricism), Jack is heavy (although his vocal range has diminished somewhat), and Clapton is... Clapton. My old guitar teacher was a Clapton acquaintance--said Clap practiced himself silly, could play changes and all that. My primary gripe is that Slowhand has gotten far too refined for this sort of material... it just screams for youth, vigor, and edge--recklessness, one might say. Clapton's salad days are behind him, even if Baker and Bruce still want to play ball. Of the Cream material I've heard... I keep coming back to "Wheels of Fire." "Fresh Cream" is poorly produced, but well played. "Disraeli Gears" has some very dated cuts, but it's a fun listen. Make no mistake, "Goodbye" and the two "Live Creams" have some of the best live Cream available anywhere--and that includes the "legendary" bootleg recordings. I was actually a little disappointed when I heard what are reputedly the "best" of the bootlegs (Grande Ballroom, etc.)... even in its finest moments, Cream couldn't escape its idiom. Clapton was in this urban blues bag, and even if Ginger and Jack wanted to go all Ornette Coleman on him, there was only so far the music could go (without collapsing in on itself). That's the great paradox for me: for all its experimental vigor, Cream couldn't escape its self-imposed conventions. That being said, it was great for what it was--a rip-roaring, hardcore, ahead-of-the-pack rock band. I think the dissolution of the band was a necessary evil. Clapton was able to dig deeper into his bag, producing some great pop/blues records that, while low on adventure, remain high on craft. Jack was able to fulfill his dreams of working in a high-profile progressive jazz outfit, cutting some sick sides with Tony Williams, Carla Bley, and John Stevens, among others. I'd say that Jack's back catalogue is one of the greatest in modern (jazz-?)rock; records like "Songs For A Tailor" and "Harmony Row" are everything Cream couldn't be... Ginger, of course, went on to helm Airforce, work with Fela Kuti, cut some pseudo-free sides, and earn the respect of the drum establishment (challenging Elvin to a drum battle or two). I don't think I'd say this if I were my younger self, but Cream was probably less than the sum of its parts. Fortunately, those parts were pretty valuable in the first place... and hey, I'll always love "Wheels of Fire."
  13. I Hate that little strip of tape.....

    Man, I've gotten blisters from tape residue. Price tags (directly on the CD) are worse, though.
  14. Monk/Coltrane vs Bird/Diz

    Should we have an option for "I don't care either way?" I can't choose... That being said, there was something really "fairytale" exciting about the Bird/Diz set... it didn't hurt that the Uptown release was a more grassroots project, goaded forward by the mutual enthusiasm of hardcore jazzbos. The Monk/Coltrane release just didn't have that--the whole project seems rife with marketing design and timely, self-propelled buzz. This doesn't affect the music of course... but the Uptown release was a fan baby. Just a little more fun--and inspiring, I guess. That being said, I'm a sucker for Monktrane, so...
  15. AOTW October 9- 15

    There's Tubby Hayes and then The Jazz Corps. And didn't he sit in with Stitt once? ← There was that live date with the Mothers of Invention... oh, and that tape of Rahsaan and Jimi Hendrix (never to see the light of day... heard it didn't do either of them justice, anyhow).
  16. AOTW October 9- 15

    A beautiful album. Rahsaan didn't do nearly as many sideman dates as I would have liked, but this one stands for posterity. Haynes gets in some tasty licks, Grimes is rock solid, and Flanagan is in excellent form. The repertoire is excellent, too. This is one of those hard bop dates that just simmers with energy, passion unhinged but truly disciplined. Rahsaan is the real hero for me, though. Like Eric Dolphy, he has the power to elevate, embolden, and intensify even the most banal of circumstances; throw him into a potent pot, and the stew just cooks. Even today, all the histrionics and wild antics belie the sheer power and heart in his playing. I'm up in Berkeley right now, and even the so-called "hip" set isn't all that hip to Rahsaan... too out there, by reputation. But, as "Out of the Afternoon" clearly shows, Rokirk could move mountains stationary--all by blowing. Check out Some Other Spring for some remarkably restrained blowing... that cat had soul. Some great memories of this date... when I was a little younger, I made my mom a mix of some jazz tracks (I'm a first generation musician, so it's reverse indoctrination)... threw Fly Me to the Moon on there. Man, that mix is still in my mom's car. I whistle along to Rahsaan's solo whenever I'm back in town... Bright moments.
  17. Thirsty Ear Corner

    Fair enough... and, really, nothing's ESP caliber these days (and I never meant to say that the Blue Series was--only that certain superficialities incite comparison). In some way, however, I admire the foolhardiness of the whole Thirsty Ear thing. The savvier set can (and seems to) see through the pomp, but there's something amusing (?) about the Blue Series' self-conscious revolution-speak... and if it gets the hipster crowd listening, then why not? Ornette is miles above this stuff, but there's no doubt that a title like The Shape of Jazz to Come is as pretentious as it gets. Regardless, sensationalistic marketing practices can and sometimes do make for fascinating events. Musical quality is another thing. The Atlantic Ornette material is ostensibly classic. I still believe that the Blue Series BS--like it or not--shouldn't diminish the quality of certain recordings (i.e., the Shipp sides, which are, to these ears, excellent). But yeah, there are clunkers. Man, that Albert King disc was totally left field. The set seems good, though (horns?!).
  18. Thirsty Ear Corner

    No such insinuation was made by me. I specifically referred to the unintelligibility of Braxton, Ornette and Taylor regarding their writing/speaking about music. ← ...and--to clarify--I did not mean to imply any level of "misunderstanding" on Akanalog's part. I'm just trying to get to the bottom of all the disgust. On what levels are we dealing? What's the problem? The music? The ideology? Does the latter denigrate the former? I'd just like to hear the opposite viewpoint (for edification, anyway). Oh, and I didn't mean to say that Braxton, Ornette, Taylor (et al.) speak nonsense. Quite the contrary--I think there's a lot of depth and intelligence to what (on first glance) may seem like pretension and incoherence. The point is, whatever one's take on musical ideology/verbage, the sound is left to speak for itself.
  19. Happy Birthday John Coltrane

    Man, it's today? I'm listening to Kulu Se Mama right now--I actually bought it yesterday (completely unawares--spun it for the first time at 12:00 AM). Heavy.
  20. Albert Ayler: New Grass

    Don't know if this has been discussed elsewhere, but I thought somebody would care (in a negative sense, perhaps)... Limited edition Verve re-issue, 24-Bit w/digipack packaging. Re-released on 9/13/2005. I'm listening to it right now (thoughts later).
  21. Albert Ayler: New Grass

    You know, half the time I get the impression that Trevor MacLaren doesn't know what he's doing. Sure, he's well intentioned and all... New Grass is a new spin for me. I love Ayler madly, enough to divine the "purpose" in his missteps. That being said, the album is more or less what I expected--strange, schizophrenic, and just a little unsettling. Part of what makes Ayler so difficult is the depth of his sincerity, a force that seems to transcend whatever idiom he's playing in. There's just so much pathos--bathos?--to that sound that it's difficult not to take Ayler as serious as a heart attack. I agree with the others--this isn't his best work (my favorite is Vibrations)--but it certainly isn't dross. Every album is like a tome, and the entirety of the Ayler catalogue is some beautiful terror.
  22. Members, Don't Git Weary

    Good God, I can't get enough of this album. On the face of it, Members seems like your standard late-60's fare--electric bass, hip grooves, Joel Dorn production. It's also phenomenally short, clocking in at just a little over 30 minutes (flat). What the album lacks in volume, however, it more than compensates for in verve. There's just so much to love. Roach leads a proto-Music Inc. group comprised of Gary Bartz (alto), Charles Tolliver (trumpet), Jymie Merritt (electric bass), and Stanley Cowell (piano and el. piano). The music is nothing too groundbreaking--mainstream jazz in a post-bop vein, reminiscent of some Strata East cuts--but it’s quite affecting nonetheless. Even with the short playing time, there’s more than enough to merit repeated listenings. Tolliver, especially, has never sounded better--he carries a great deal of the solo weight here, tearing through the ensemble with a facility, range, and power seldom demonstrated elsewhere. Bartz keeps his improvisations grounded, favoring light, earthy statements that contrast with Tolliver's fire. Cowell and Merritt keep the proceedings moving, aggravating, abetting the front-line torrent. Roach plays above his usual standards, showcasing a dizzying polyrhythmic attack that threatens to overwhelm the proceedings, tipping the ensemble work just so--but never falling into chaos. Fine compositions all around--three Cowell tunes, one apiece by Roach, Merritt, and Bartz (no Tolliver cuts, curiously). Strong contributions, but the ensemble takes them some place special. Listen to Effi, especially--when Tolliver starts soaring over the din, stretching his upper register, challenging the roar of the rhythm section, the effect is breathtaking. There are moments like that all over this album. Caveat--the Koch Jazz edition (the one I purchased) has slightly sub par sound quality. This one deserves the deluxe treatment.
  23. Members, Don't Git Weary

    I don't know... I can't really listen to this set with respect to social/historical context. Max's "sidemen" are such a dominant force that I can't fault the album on account of the leader's idiosyncrasies. I came into this one a lot later--after years and years of pop inculcation and what not--and it still sounds fresh in spite of itself. The fact that the guys are carrying on like they are even with electric instrumentation and Max's histrionics makes the album all the more extraordinary. Still, I wasn't around back then, and I can only imagine what it must have been like in 1968...
  24. Thirsty Ear Corner

    -_- That actually made me laugh out loud. Still, precisely what's your beef with the guy? Pretension is one thing, but that doesn't keep me from listening to, say, Anthony Braxton, who wrote the book on unintelligibility (and could easily be taken the wrong way). Not to put DJ Spooky on the same level as Braxton (et al.), but a lot of the greats--Ornette, Cecil Taylor, etc.--sound just as (verbally) inchoate. Now, if you hate the sounds... that's a different story. But a BS ideology shouldn't denigrate the music. If a hundred monkeys pounded out Ascension tomorrow, I'd buy their record. Maybe a banana.
  25. Thirsty Ear Corner

    I can certainly understand the criticism. No direct problems on this end, though. I guess it's just that the Blue Series commodifies innovation. Well-packaged, no-fuss, tied together with a nice little mission statement (and some zeal for measure). Good marketing, in short. The level/sort of experimentation cultivated by the Blue Series has been brewing since lord knows when, but the possibilities needed to be idiomized--free hop or whatever--for mass consumption. The music may not be better, but it's easier to digest this way--and half the revolution is in the hype, so at least it feels like we're making progress. Maybe some new labels can take the opening and run with it. That being said, the music is fine. I like that they're giving the young turks some press... BS... yeah, but that's the charm of it all for me. The younger generation (I'd include myself) came up in a post-free, post-rap environment where a synoptic view of the improv lexicon required detective work... there's nothing altogether epochal going on, so it's build your own revolution. But the angle is all different--improvisers aren't just coming out of jazz anymore, and a great deal of young cats lack discipline--or a sense of boundary, for that matter. The results may not sound pristine--or even altogether genuine--but I'll be damned if it isn't fun watching (hearing) people flail.